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Congratulations! You’ve completed your orthodontic treatment and are now the owner of a fabulous new smile. It’s not over yet, though — you must wear a retainer.

A retainer? What’s that?

Dental braces work by applying pressure to your teeth. Once your treatment is complete (and the pressure is removed), your teeth may try to return to their original positions, particularly if you are young and still growing. A retainer ensures that they remain in place.

After wearing braces, you should wear a retainer 24/7 for six to 12 months before reducing this down to just at night. Then, to ensure your teeth remain straight, we recommend that wearing a retainer becomes a life-time commitment. Don’t panic, though; after the initial settling down period, you need only wear a it for one or tow nights per week.

After wearing braces for one to two years (depending on your treatment), you may feel that having to wear a retainer is a bit of a drag. In reality, it’s no big deal. Sure, a retainer can feel a bit strange at first — for a day or two you may speak with a slight lisp and your mouth might produce a little more saliva than usual. However, we can assure you that retainers are much more comfortable than braces.

Types of retainers

Retainers fall into two main categories: bonded (permanent) and removable. As it’s common for people to sometimes forget to wear — or even lose — their retainers, we prefer the bonded option, particularly with younger patients. However, removable retainers work perfectly well.

Bonded retainers

Also known as a fixed retainer or lingual wire, a bonded retainer is a wire that is glued to the back surface of your teeth.

Here are some of the benefits:

  • It’s invisible: A bonded retainer is placed behind your teeth, so no one will know that you’re wearing one.
  • You can’t lose it: The retainer is securely attached with dental glue.
  • It ensures that your teeth remain straight: Because you can’t take the retainer off, there is no chance of your teeth moving back into place.

Removable retainers

There are a few kinds of removable retainers, such as the clear horseshoe-shaped Vacuum Form Retainer (VFR), which fits snugly over the teeth. There is also the traditional Hawley Retainer, which comprises a piece of plastic that is formed for the roof or floor of the mouth with a wire attached that fits over the front of the teeth.

Here are some of the benefits:

  • Easy set up: Unlike bonded retainers, which take far longer, it takes just 30 seconds to a minute for your orthodontist to make a mould of your mouth.
  • You can remove it whenever you want: This is convenient when you are eating or brushing and flossing your teeth.
  • It’s easy to clean: Soak the retainer in a cleaning solution.

Wear a retainer

Having persevered with braces to achieve a brand-new smile, it would be a shame to let nature undo some of the good work. It doesn’t really matter whether you choose a bonded or removable retainer. What matters is that you wear one.

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